MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – Barry University’s athletic department and School of Human Performance and Leisure Sciences hosted a Christmas party for underprivileged children from South Florida, spreading holiday cheer.
Barry’s student-athletes and staff members from the athletic department staff and HPLS played basketball, games and other fitness activities, decorated Christmas stockings and spent time talking and mentoring with children from Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth Inc.’s Pompano Beach location. HANDY is an award-winning non-profit organization serving over 45,000 Broward County children in foster and relative/non-relative care associated with the child dependency system.
“It’s always nice when you are able to put a smile on a child's face,” Buccaneers women’s soccer player Natalie Diaz said. “The HANDY party really embodied the spirit of the season.”
Members from each of Barry’s 12 athletic teams spent time with the kids, and the athletes even donated money to help purchase gifts for the HANDY children. The kids were also treated to pizza and drinks.
“It was amazing seeing the kids to be so happy by something so small,” Barry women’s golfer Eiken Hansen said. “It’s not about giving them presents, but more about helping out and making them happy. All of them had fun playing in the gym, eating pizza and interacting with athletes. As long as all of them went home with a smile, we did everything right.”
Santa even made an appearance.
“I don’t know who had more fun, the student athletes or the children who came?” women’s basketball player Emily Schahczinski said. “Many athletes enjoyed getting to know the children while they decorated Christmas stockings. The children also had many questions for us, too. I believe it was a great time for all who participated.”
Being able to talk to the HANDY kids was the simplest form of giving Barry’s student-athletes offered, but it was also maybe the most worthwhile -- for all parties.
“It’s twofold when you consider the impact a smile and a few simple words can have on a person,” men’s basketball player Juan Ferrales said. “Being able to spend time with these kids meant something to us as athletes, knowing we could maybe enlighten them, cheer them up or give them hope for their future. But to be honest, I myself felt like I was getting something as equally meaningful in return.”